Next chapter of my language journey…. Go!

I have returned! I must apologize, once again, for my absence from my blog. To put it simply; I’ve been dealing with a serious health problem the past few months. That, coupled with summer vacation (3 kids at home) left me no time… or motivation, to study much at all. Therefore, I had nothing to post about. Also, my Korean language partner and I have decided to stop our lessons together. You really get to see who a person really is when times get tough, and it’s probably best this way. I may try finding a new partner on italki soon.

Last weekend, I started attending the free Korean classes at one of the local universities (again). Last time I went, 2 semesters ago, I was in the intermediate class (there was only 1). I didn’t get much out of it though, most of the other students were still at the beginner level… so aside from some new vocabulary, it was basic. This time there are 2 levels of intermediate. Based on my prior experience I signed up for intermediate 2. Well, I will be going back to intermediate 1! The intermediate 2 class should be an Advanced level class. Out of the other students; 1 had been learning Korean for 8 years, and the rest are married to native Koreans and are pretty much fluent already! I couldn’t quite keep up. So, I spent 1/2 the session in the level 1 class… and can happily say that it is no longer a basic class. After talking to some fellow language learners on Facebook, the actual level of difficulty (in the free classes) seems to be on a sliding scale that varies with each teacher.

Lately I’ve been trying to nail down my understanding & usage of  A/V~(으)ㄴ/는 데 , it is one of the most commonly used grammar points in the Korean language, but after all of this time it still gives me a headache. It can mean a few different things:

1.  ‘so/therefore’ or ‘and’; when the 1st clause is giving background info for the 2nd. Ex) 제 동생은 학생인데 공부를 아주 잘래요. My little sister is a student, and she studies really hard.

2. ‘but‘; when you are contrasting 2 clauses. Ex) 저는 어니는 있는데 오빠는 없어요. I have an older sister, but not an older brother.

It really is simple enough, but for some reason my brain is fighting it. What grammar challenges are you facing? Feel free to comment below, so that we can wallow together 😆

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Random tidbits… Tally marks

This past weekend I met with my good friend for a Korean study session. Eventually one of my other friends joined us, she’s learning Japanese though. I like these type of study meet-ups because we usually end up sharing interesting tidbits we’ve learned. This time, my friend mentioned tally marks. I actually had no idea there were different ways to draw these marks, but it’s not surprising… Quite interesting really.

In North America (and Europe) we tally like this: 

                                                                        
Each crossed out set is a group of five. Now, in Korea & Japan (and probably many other places), the tally marks produce the Chinese character for “correct” (#5 below). They are written like this:  

                                                                             

Still counted as 5, but looks much more interesting! It took me a few tries to get the stroke order right myself 🙂

I really enjoy learning things like this, it makes language learning that much more fun. What are some cool tidbits that you’ve learned in your studies?

Time to get back to normal… Hi!

   So, it’s definitely been a while… My apologies. It’s been a really eventful half a year, some good and some bad. On the bright side… I was able to surprise a longtime friend in England with a 15 day long visit! That was definitely the highlight of my 2015. On the negative side, I’ve spent the past few months quite sick. But, I’m finally back to normal so it’s time to return to my regularly scheduled blogging. So, welcome back!

   My progress in Korean is slow, but steady. My friend and I haven’t been able to meet regularly for the past while. Our schedules just haven’t allowed it. So, I’ve been mostly studying alone. But, I am now taking part in free weekly language classes offered at the University here. I’m in the intermediate level class, and am enjoying myself. Not everything is new for me… But it’s nice to review. My favourite part is meeting other Korean learners, self studying can get lonely at times. 

   I’ve been trying to focus more on vocabulary and writing lately, Trying to get the hang of  서술체 (Narrative Form), which is used when writing diaries, reports, etc… There’s not much difference really, just the endings change. A bit tricky for me because I always want to write how I would say it in an actual conversation. I’m trying to pull through the intermediate plateau stage… it feels like I have forgotten how to study sometimes. But I think I may just need to tweak my methods to suit where I am. Anyone else feel the same? I know I’ve read a couple of blog posts with the same issue, so it’s nice to know it’s not just me.

  Well, off I go for tonight. My next post will be more Korean centred, promise. 안녕!

How to build Korean speaking confidence

This is a wonderful post on how to improve your speaking confidence, definitely worth the read!

Sofie to Korea

About a month ago I took advantage of one of TTMIK’s sales and bought two e-books each containing 10 episodes of their latest feature, TTMIK Story Time. The concept is very simple; one of the teachers speaks into a camera about something related to everyday life such as walks in the park, birthdays, shopping, and hairstyles for 1-2 minutes. These videos with Korean subtitles are available for free on YouTube. If you purchase a bundle or a subscription you also receive the transcript, the grammar breakdown, and a short comprehension quiz. Lately, I have been using the videos for improving my Korean speech, flow, and intonation. Here’s how I did it:

I watched a Story Time monologue 3-4 times, then read the transcript out loud to myself repeatedly (sometimes recording myself) to improve the sound and intonation of my Korean. Finally, I memorized every single sentence (depending on your brain’s storage capacity, this…

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App review… Dongsa

   Today I present to you my first review post *fanfare*. I have chosen one of my favourite reference apps (for studying Korean)... Dongsa 🙂

   Dongsa is a verb conjugation app (동사 means “verb” in Korean ). You just put in a verb, and it gives you every conjugation for it. All you have to do is scroll. For example, I put in 배우다 (to learn)…..

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    ** there’s more conjugation forms… But the post would be huge if I inserted all of them **

    Very nicely organized, and really handy to have around ☺ I find it especially helpful when facing irregular conjugation. There is a website version of the app as well… Dongsa.net.

   Dongsa is FREE on the google play store, but costs 99¢ on iTunes. Still, well worth the dollar!

  

Adjustments and some French…

Lately things have been a bit different around here when it comes to my language learning. And, at this point, I’m still adjusting to certain changes that have happened. All in all I’m still learning, but my methods have been changing a bit.

So, my weekly Korean practice sessions with my friend here are on hold until at least August… He has an audition to prepare for and I totally understand him wanting to be the best he can be. On another note, we had a disagreement not long ago which has left a slightly uncomfortable space in our friendship. I’m hoping that, by August, things will return to normal…. hopefully.

To keep at it, I have turned to iTalki for Korean conversation practice. I found a really great partner, so it’s been quite enjoyable. I now realize 2 things… First, I really have to start focusing on speaking a lot more than I have been. And second… vocabulary, vocabulary, vocabulary. I know I’ve said that vocabulary shouldn’t be the sole focus of learning. But, when it comes to wanting to move beyond basic phrases and repetitive sentences there’s no other way, right? I get so frustrated when I can’t find the words to be more descriptive.

I haven’t been doing much when it comes to Italian, some grammar exercises here and there. I’m not too worried about it, it’s a bit more natural for me.

On a happy note…. I just discovered that there are 4 other people at work who talk French! Yay! It’s funny how, although I know a lot of other French speakers…. I don’t spend everyday around them, so there are fewer chances to interact in French than I’d like. So, now I can speak French everyday! I’ve missed being able to do that… my 2 co-workers from France now refuse to talk to me in English! I’m thrilled! We have found some slight differences in vocabulary between “France French” and “Canadian French.” For example, Formally we are taught “fin de semaine”, while they use “weekend” (with the accent). It’s really interesting to find the differences, as slight as they appear to be.

Well, just another update. Next post I’m thinking of doing a review of some sort (book or app), I really enjoy reading other bloggers reviews. Until then…

Progress, new beginnings and italki

I didn’t realize it had been a whole month since my last post, sorry about that… it’s been a crazy month. I am going to try and post at least once a week from now on.

I am still studying the first chapter of Korean Grammar in Use – Intermediate. I find that I am studying at a slower pace with this book as the grammar points are more complex and there is way more vocabulary to learn. The past week has found me focused on vocabulary, and less on grammar. I have been going back through my flashcards with a vengeance, I really need to review a chunk of them every day… something I have not been keeping up with. On the plus side, it is getting easier to make random sentences! That’s a huge thing for me, as I tend to over think things… and it can therefore take me 5 minutes to make sentences on the fly! Am I the only one with this problem?

I have decided to renew my interest in Italian! I know the basics, thanks to a course back in  school (plus, it is close to French), so it is proving to be easy-ish to pick up. I am using italki for my Italian lessons, which is a first for me. I have never really been into the “language exchange”/Skype programs, but decided to give it a try. I have actually found a really fun teacher, so that’s great. Does anyone else use italki? How has your experience been?

Sorry this post is a bit bland, Just a quick update to prove that I’m still alive and learning! More interesting posts to come… 🙂 Have a great week everyone!

Random musings… Vocabulary over grammar?

   Today, as I  was standing in line at the grocery store, I overheard the guy behind me discussing language learning with someone (on his cell phone). Apparently he is learning German.

   Anyways, he was going on about how you should focus solely on vocabulary, and not worry about grammar or sentence structure at all… “that will come from speaking with people”. I mentally face palmed myself and shook my head. Sure, by the end he’ll be able to point at things and name them… But how will he make a functional sentence? To speak coherently you need a general knowledge of structure and grammar, right?

   I couldn’t imagine focusing solely on vocabulary. Especially when it would involve particles…  They aren’t vocabulary, they’re grammar points. For example: 지금 집에 있어요… Simple sentence, because I know the particle 에 and it’s use. Now imagine being someone who knows a whole bunch of vocabulary, but barely any grammar… They may know verb conjugation, so 있어요 may not be a problem, but what about the 에? It changes the sound of the word. I remember stumbling over spoken words because I hadn’t learnt a certain particle yet, and I couldn’t understand the word with the particle attached.

   I certainly hope all goes well for both the guy and his friend. Maybe their vocab only system will work for them… I sure know it wouldn’t work for me!

  

Sometimes new grammar can solve old problems

   이 책은 어려워 보여요.
(This book looks difficult)

   Yesterday I began studying from my intermediate level book. I have been putting it off for a couple weeks, mostly because I was nervous (having the flu didn’t help motivate me either). After flipping quickly through it a while back it looked so complex, but after finishing the first little unit yesterday… my first thought was “I got this!” 

   The sentence above represents the first unit, – 아/어 보이다, basically “S looks V” based on outward appearance. It was a great unit to start with, and the example sentences helped me to finally solidify how ~는 데 is used (I still stumble with some of the basics sometimes).

   Looking back, I flipped through the intermediate book way too early the first time! Blame it on over eager beginner syndrome LOL. Now, when I flip ahead I see grammar points that I come across often in dramas and podcasts…  this makes me excited to move forward. I had been seriously lacking any desire to study lately, but I think this changes things. YAY! 

   Personally I think it’s important, as a language learner, to “get out of my head” more often.  Most of us are, quite honestly, our own biggest critic. And most times we are way too hard on ourselves. So, don’t psych yourself out too much (like I have). Things might not be as tough as they seem to be.

  

Tackling my first Korean novel, and apparently a new textbook…

So, with the new year comes new challenges… I’ve decided to tackle my first Korean novel!

My friend returned, mid-December, from his trip to Korea with a few presents for me… the first 2 Harry Potter books (both volumes of each, so 4 books in total)!!!! I decided to start reading the first one, 해리포터 마법사의 돌 (제 1 관), with the goal of finishing it by the end of the year. I know that a whole year for one book seems a bit much… but there is tons of new vocabulary (and grammar structures too). And, I am in no rush. Already, I have found that I can easily understand the dialogue bits, but the descriptive paragraphs are a bit tricky for me. Definitely a refresher for “noun groups”, and instead of the -요 ending…. -다 is used more frequently in these paragraphs. My friend says -다 is more common in writing, while -요 is used in speaking.

So there I was, all happy with the challenge ahead. And then my friend decided to tell me that since I was able to start a novel… it was time to start my intermediate textbook! I use the Korean Grammar in Use books, and was going through the Beginner one for the second time. He said that I will find the novel and the intermediate textbook mutually beneficial. The part of me that lacks confidence in myself was like “What?! So not ready! Let’s just stay in our comfy, safe little beginner box….”. But the part of me that wants to move forward, and is not to happy with my recent lack of progress, stomped on that and was all like “Let’s do this!”

So, that’s where I am in my language journey now… Do you feel nervous when starting a new textbook or level? Are you where you want to be on your language learning journey?